Warhawk attacker Mike Hayden delivered the overtime game-winner in a thrilling 10-9 boys’ lacrosse slugfest played recently between Madison and Langley. The Liberty District battle featured the game being postponed and ultimately completed more than a week later, a goalie scoring a goal, and a sensational, back-to-goal `alligator roll’ shot to tie matters for the eventual winners with only six seconds remaining in regulation.
Will Cybulski provided the Warhawks four goals, three of which came during a productive third quarter after the home team found itself staring down a four-goal deficit three minutes into the second half. Madison also got a hat-trick from middie George Bailey, a pair from Hayden and one goal from middie Matt Russiello.
Saxon Alex Devlin netted five goals while attackman Jack Lundeen, middies Joey Byrne and Charlie Scharfen, and goalie Galen Kuney contributed one each in a losing effort for Langley (10-1 overall, 6-1 district).
The win for the Warhawks (9-1, 6-1) handed the Saxons their first loss of the 2009 campaign and created a three-way tie for first place in the Liberty District regular season standings. A coin toss to determine play-off seedings resulted in first, second and third place going to Langley, W T Woodson and Madison, respectively.
Foul weather on the regular schedule April 20 date forced suspension of what was clearly already shaping up as an enthralling match-up between the Liberty rivals. A lightning alert halted play at the 8:38 mark of the second quarter with the score knotted at two apiece, and when stormy conditions persisted the decision was made to resume the contest eight days later on April 28. Bailey and Devlin were the goal providers for their respective teams before lightning intervened.
The game resumed at Madison under delightful weather conditions, although `thunder and lightning’ did emerge as elements of the game itself and the performances by two outstanding lacrosse squads.
The opening moments after the re-start presented yet another unconventional element to the affair. The Warhawks allowed Saxon goalie Kuney, who had gained possession near his crease, to drift downfield virtually unchallenged to a position where he proceeded to fire in past his Madison counterpart, Ryan Cass, with barely 30 seconds removed from the game clock.
Lundeen made it 4-2 for Langley a little over a minute later. Hayden pulled one back for the hosts, only to see Devlin and Scharfen get one each to forge a 6-3 half-time scoreline in favor of the visitors. The lead could have been larger if not for several Saxon shots kept out by the cage frame and several fine reaction saves by Cass.
When Langley middie Byrne struck early in the second half to put his side up by four goals, one would have suspected with some reason that the Saxons were on the verge of taking the contest by the scruff of the neck for their 11th win of the season. But the Warhawks were awarded a 60-second man advantage a little over a minute later, which gave them the opening they needed to mount convincing return fire in search of a comeback. Cybulski sowed the seeds of recovery just 20 seconds into the man advantage when he netted the first of his four goals for the evening.
<b>The Warhawks</b> continued to pressure the Langley defense, with the pay-off coming by way of Cybulski completing his third-quarter hat-trick and teammate Russiello adding an equalizer to set the scoreline at seven apiece at the close of the quarter. And now Kuney was the goalie being forced into making good saves to keep his side within reach of victory.
Madison went on top again when Cybulski drilled one in at the start of the fourth quarter. But that lead was short-lived, as Devlin fired back less than a minute later, with 10:31 remaining, to restore the tied score.
Devlin then got his fifth of the game, but only after more than eight minutes of game time had elapsed, by far the longest scoreless span of time in the riveting battle. The lively middie deposited past goalie Cass with 2:22 remaining,, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
The trailing Warhawks applied all the offensive pressure they could muster in search of an equalizer. Cybulski had a sustained run in possession that provided brief glimpses of the cage but no real opportunity to unleash due to the close attention of Langley defender Trevor Shafran.
The Madison attacker coughed up the ball when he became the meat in the sandwich of a double team check by Shafran and Saxon longstickman Tom Robinson. The loose ball was promptly picked up by Shafran, but his attempt to pass back to his goalie behind the cage went just wide of Kuney’s stick. Bailey came up with the ball, and while approaching the goal from behind the goal line extended, he played it back in front to his fellow middie Mike McCool, who got off a shot from 10 yards that Kuney parried away with only about eight seconds remaining. The ball caromed to the feet of Bailey, who scooped and whirled in one motion with his back toward the net to launch a five-yard volley over his shoulder and into the top corner of Kuney’s cage for one memorable goal for Coach Rich Hodge’s Warhawks.
Another, of course, was yet to come. Both sides, however, had some work to do in order to lay claim to a sudden-death game-winner. Langley won the overtime face-off and mounted an attack that yielded a pair of shots – one from attacker Ethan Bailey that hit the cage frame and rebounded back toward midfield, and a second shortly after by attacker Ryan Ningard that was comfortably saved by goalie Cass.
Madison shifted the action in the other direction, getting clear of its defensive zone and calmly advancing into Saxon territory. Warhawk longstickman Max Dail was sure with his feed pass to teammate Hayden, who needed only a few more moments of maneuver to complete the night’s work in one remarkable lacrosse game.